Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party says President Robert Mugabe could be impeached within two days as the longtime leader ignored the party’s midday deadline to step down less than a week after the military seized power in the African country.
ZANU-PF’s lawmakers began meeting on impeachment plans on Monday, said deputy secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana, adding that they would have a motion for impeachment on Tuesday.
He added that they also had already set up a parliamentary committee and that on Wednesday the committee would report back to all legislators and “we vote” the 93-year-old Mugabe “out.”
Speaking at a press conference in capital Harare, Mangwana announced that the main charges against the 93-year-old president were “allowing his wife (Grace) to usurp government powers” and his advanced age, saying Mugabe “is too old and cannot even walk without help.”
He further said at the presser that ZANU-PF, which fired both Mugabe and his wife from the party a day earlier, was in need of the backing of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition group in order to have adequate votes in parliament. However, he added that “we have talked to them and they are supporting us.”
On Sunday night, Mugabe made a national address four days after he was placed under a house arrest by the military. Zimbabweans, who highly expected that the president would finally announce his resignation, were stunned by Mugabe’s defiance to step down, though he acknowledged “a whole range of concerns” about the chaotic state of the government and the failing economy.
The ailing president also acknowledged criticism from ZANU-PF, the military and public, but said the events of last week were not “a challenge to my authority as head of state and government.”
Mugabe has been in power for almost four decades, since the former British colony gained independence from the UK in 1980. Opposition groups and Mugabe’s former allies have already urged him to quit.
Meanwhile, Mugabe called his cabinet for meeting to be held at his State House offices on Tuesday, the same day the ruling party lawmakers plan to impeach him.
Earlier in the day, several hundred students of the University of Zimbabwe held a rally against Mugabe to add their voices to the clamor for autocrat to quit, after their classes were cancelled and their examinations were postponed.
“We are standing in solidarity with our army. Mugabe must resign as soon as possible, things are not working because of his ruinous policies,” said law student Chipo Yemurai.
Former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been reinstated and elected as interim leader of the ZANU-PF in place of Mugabe. He is widely expected to take over from him as president.
The military, which insists it is only going after “criminals” and is not planning to take power, has also detained finance minister, Ignatius Chombo, a leading member of the so-called ‘G40’ faction of the ZANU-PF, run by Grace.
Mugabe and his wife have been on the European Union’s sanctions list along with other key figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling elite, facing travel bans and asset freezes abroad.